If you are in forced recuperation like I am (not sure why I’m making it sound like a death sentence) you are constantly looking for things to occupy and enrich your mind while your body heals. And if you’re outside adventures, such a trips to the grocery store, are also limited until you get clearance from the doctor, you need to rely on what you already have at home. And although I love my computer, one can only surf so much before you seek stimulation elsewhere.
I found an outlet on, of all places, Facebook. Scrolling through the news feed the other day I came across a recipe for an apple cinnamon loaf. Now I’ve looked at dozens of recipes that people post and generally gloss over most of them but this one intrigued me because not only did is sound very “Fall-ish” and wonderful but also because I already had all of the ingredients in my pantry. So today, instead of being the self-proclaimed Pinterest recipe critic, I am switching my critique to what I found on Facebook.
In a previous blog when I reviewed a Pinterest recipe for Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Loaf, I talked about the technique of mixing fruit with flour so that it disburses throughout the loaf and doesn’t all sink to the bottom. Unfortunately that technique did not work for me when I made it (I attribute it to the use of frozen instead of fresh blueberries). Upon seeing the loaf my husband dubbed it my “sunken berry” cake and although delicious not as pleasing to the eye as I would have wanted. This time I wanted to avoid the dreaded sunken berry (almost sounds like a breakfast cereal, doesn’t it?).
This particular loaf uses a different technique, one that is used frequently in boxed loaf mixes, that of putting half the batter in the pan, adding the spices or fruit and topping and then adding the remaining batter with another layer of topping. This recipe calls for adding a layer of spices and fruit onto half the batter, patting it down, repeating the process and then finally before putting it into the oven using your finger or a spoon and swirling the mixture all around. That sounded interesting. And what technique do you think I used? Of course, nix the spoon, the finger is so much more fun! Nothing like getting your hands dirty while in the kitchen I always say.
Needless to say, a very simple and full proof recipe. My Rating: A-. What I like about this recipe is that it’s very easy to make and uses staples most of us have in the pantry. Believe it or not I did not have enough vanilla extract for the recipe (who ever runs out of vanilla extract, I mean really?) so I substituted the cinnamon extract I had on hand and it seemed to work fine. And, as always when I make something, there are some lessons learned.
Lesson Learned 1.) I think the recipe needs a couple of boosts to get rid of the minus on the rating. First, I would specify using a green apple (which I did in the directions below). I had a gala apple on hand and although it worked well I think green apples are your best bet when a recipe calls for using apples.
Lesson Learned 2.) The next time I make this I will try coating the apple chunks with some nutmeg and cinnamon sugar and letting them absorb them before I layer them on the batter. I think that will enhance the flavor of the apple.
Lesson Learned 3.) The recipe calls for 1/3 cup brown sugar not packed. I would recommend packing the brown sugar as I think the cake needed a little more of that sweetness. You may need to add a little more cinnamon to the brown sugar but that is no big deal.
Lesson Learned 4.) The recipe called for the loaf to bake for 30-40 minutes. It took my loaf 45 minutes to render a clean toothpick when inserted in the center.
Lesson Learned 5.) As mentioned in previous critiques, as soon as I am able I am getting a new loaf pan. Hopefully that will help to get a loaf that is evenly baked and not crunchy on the ends.
All in all I was very pleased with the outcome, especially when it turns out well the very first time you make it. This is an easy recipe, one I would recommend to keep in your recipe box.
APPLE CINNAMON LOAF
Apple Cinnamon Loaf
1/3 cup brown sugar packed
1-1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 softened butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 apples peeled and chopped, honey crisp or granny smith
Cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg to coat the chopped apple (mixture to taste)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan (or use baking spray).
2. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Chop the apple and lightly coat with a mixture of cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg and set aside.
3. Beat sugar and butter until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add vanilla extract.
4. In a separate bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Make a well in the center and stir in butter mixture. Once combined, stir in milk until batter is smooth.
5. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Top with half the chopped apples. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture on top. Pat apples and brown sugar into the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the apple layer, top with remaining apples and brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Lightly pat. Swirl batter with your finger or your spoon.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.